A few people have asked me, “Don, what do you guys do during the summer for the blog? There really isn’t much going on.” That is the #1 disadvantage of writing for a site dedicated to a mid-major basketball team. The summer months are long and uneventful. Last summer, we were fortunate that UD was undergoing a coaching change and transfers were coming in and out, but we are (fortunately) not going to have that luxury this summer.
So what can we do to spice up the site, get some hits throughout the summer, and keep you entertained? We tossed it around and thought, “Why don’t we re-format the site, add some new features, and reap the benefits.” What those benefits are still puzzles me, as I have yet to get any free Homage merchandise.
Anyway, despite loving UD basketball, us writers also love pop culture. We love movies, TV, music, vacations, golf, food, sex, everything. So we decided to rip out a page from the Grantland playbook and bring you “The Warehouse.” (Yes, I came up with the name and yes, it has to do with DMB…deal with it) The Warehouse will be dedicated this summer to movie discussions, TV missives, concert talk, running golf diaries to see if Blackburn can finally break 100, and just about anything else you can think of in your dirty little minds. We are going to hit you up with more podcasts (the first one is already up) and will try to get at least a few posts up every week. So there you have it, this is the new site. It will take some time to getting used to, but trust us when we say it will be awesome. And don’t worry, all UD basketball news will still be covered. London Warren has to be back in Dayton this summer, right?
So for the first post of The Warehouse, Blackburn and I decided to talk about our favorite thing — Las Vegas. This past week, we received some bad news about O’Sheas casino. Blackie and I thought what better way to celebrate the life/death of O’Sheas than by devising our “Dream Casino.”
Before we start putting together our ultimate casino, I think we’d be remiss not to first talk about the impending death of O’Sheas. When I first heard about the closing, I actually choked up a little. I had heard grumbling about it closing for years, but I never thought it would come to fruition. But alas, there is no more mystery as to the casino’s future, the official last day of business is on April 30th (2 weeks before I am going to be in Vegas).
I will admit that I got sad when I first read the news. Like, really sad. It’s almost embarrassing how hard I took it.
Look, O’Sheas is, and always was, a dump. We all can agree on that. But it was MY dump. I like to joke that it is the only place where you can eat a Whopper while playing blackjack…while getting a tattoo…while waiting in line for a beer pong table. Even though the place smelled like shit and the women dealers are often mistaken for men, it was always jammed packed.
I recall being in O’Shea’s one night and watching some EMTs pulling a completely passed out girl on a stretcher from the men’s bathroom. I asked a security guard what the commotion was and he said, matter of factly, “Oh, just your typical Thursday night at O’Sheas.” THAT is what I am going to miss about that place. Blackie, your thoughts?
Blackburn: I had a similar reaction — crushed to the point of shame that O’Shea’s will cease to exist. It was always the first place I went to after checking into my hotel in Vegas. The best way to describe it to someone who has never been? Picture what a casino in Mexico would be like, that’s O’Sheas. It didn’t have any of the perks that the high-end casinos had, such as working toilets or cleanliness ratings from the Clark County Health Inspector. However, it was the kind of place you could sit down at a blackjack table with both a shirtless guy wearing a cowboy hat and a woman lovingly breastfeeding a baby she just stole a few hours ago. Now it will be razed and replaced with yet another mega-casino/shopping center/luxury hotel/amusement park/food court monstrosity that are becoming so prevalent on the Strip.
Put yourself in the new developers shoes, what do you need for the ultimate casino?
Donoher: A casino in Mexico, a perfect example of what O’Shea’s came to exemplify. In terms of building a dream casino, I came up with 8 things I would focus on: location, girls, food, atmosphere, sportsbook, pool, table prices, and entertainment. Let’s go ahead and each build a perfect casino using these categories. There is a catch though. We cannot use the same casino in each category. I’ll start with the first category, you respond with your pick, and then you go to the next one.
Don’s Location: The most important thing when building a casino is location. Mandalay Bay, Hard Rock, and the Palms are all awesome. However, I rarely venture to any of the aforementioned because they are so far from the rest of the action. Picture the Vegas strip, draw a circle in the middle, and choose any of the casinos there. For me, I’ll go with the Flamingo. Dead center, the perfect location. Knock that sucker out and that is where I’ll start. You?
Tom’s Location: I’d say Bally’s has the best locale. It’s located near the center of the strip, at the corner of Flamingo Ave and Las Vegas Blvd. It’s biggest asset is that it is pretty much the epicenter of some of the best casinos on the Strip — equidistant to Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, Caesars and Planet Hollywood. If Saddam Hussein invaded Vegas, he would have set up shop on the top floor of Bally’s for strategic purposes.
Tom’s Women: As far as the ladies are concerned, I’d go with the Palms. Definitely attracts the younger, firmer market and seems to avoid the touristy bachelorette party segment that plagues Vegas year-round. In my mind, it’s the clear-cut winner in this category. Although you could certainly make a case for the Hard Rock.
Don’s Women: The Palms really is the only way to go as I think all girls (and some guys) still think the Real World is being shot there. The first Real World in Vegas, not the one from a few years ago. Part of me wants to pick the Hard Rock (because of Real World???) but the girls there weren’t as smoking hot as I thought they would be when I ventured around there.
You are going to see talent everywhere in Vegas, it’s just a fact. Gun to my head, I’ll choose the females that you see at the Mirage. They aren’t trashy (like the ones you’ll see at the Tropicana/New York/New York) and not stuck up bitches (like the ones you’ll see at the Wynn). They are hot and down to party. I remember meeting a girl from North Dakota there and she was crazy hot. Who knew North Dakota had hot chicks?
Don’s Food: The next category in my mind is very important as I eat a lot in Vegas. And like the category before, there is really only one answer that fits in here and that is the MGM. You could stay a week there and still not hit every place. The MGM has the 3 things I am looking for in food. A bad ass steakhouse (CraftSteak), a kick ass sushi place (Shibuya), and a food court for when I am drunk and need Coney Island and some McDonald’s. There is no other place that even comes close to it. If they put in an In and Out Burger there, I would stay at MGM every year.
Tom’s Food: This is a no-brainer. MGM, as you pointed out, has the best mix of food (fine dining, casual dining, fast food) anywhere on the Strip. Craftsteak, Emeril’s, Wolfgang Puck’s, some simple sandwich joints and even a buffet. It runs the cuisine gamut. Unfortunately, the lion habitat has been removed from the MGM, so people will longer be able to stare slack-jawed at the lions while going to town on a 20-piece nugget box from McD’s — easily my favorite spot to people-watch in Vegas.
But since you already picked the MGM, I’ll go with the Mirage. It has a pretty good steakhouse (Kokomo), a great burger joint (BLT Burger), and from what I’ve heard, quite possibly the best buffet in Vegas.
Tom’s Atmosphere: Overall atmosphere is a tough category. Totally subjective and dependent on whatever you are into. Personally, I always liked the vibe in Caesars. It seems that the drunkest people always flock there and it’s pretty much a consistently active scene no matter if it’s 7am or 7pm. Although I do want to rabbit punch anyone who wanders around there in a toga.
Don’s Atmosphere: You are right. How does one choose “atmosphere?” If some of our readers are high rollers (doubt it), then the Bellagio and/or Wynn is for you. If you are a poor son of a bitch, you should probably stick to Ellis Island and their midget craps tables. If you are someone who enjoys a good scene, good waitresses, good music, I am going to go with a little upset here and pick Harrah’s. The waitresses are fairly good-looking for a casino that is not a main attraction, it is a younger crowd that likes to have fun, and the music is always top-notch. That’s the stuff I look for when sitting down at a blackjack table.
Don’s Sportsbook: When I need that break from the craps tables because some asshole (whose race shall not be named) continues to bet the “Don’t Pass” line, I like to hit up the sportsbook and watch some games. I have never been to Vegas during the NCAA Tournament, but I imagine it being what heaven is like…only you get free drinks. I have been told that the Aria is bad ass and still gives free drinks. But I have also been told that a girl I hooked up with a few weeks ago was 18. Since I have never been to the Aria sportsbook, I am going to pick Caesars. It’s big with cozy chairs and they always seem to have the odds for future bets before anyone else.
Tom’s Sportsbook: The Hilton has been and always will be the premier place for legitimate problem gamblers. It’s huge and is basically considered the Holy Grail of wagering. However, I challenge you to find someone who has (a) been there or (b) can tell you where it’s located. I’m not wandering away from the Strip just to get the marginally best odds in the city, leave that to the hardcore degenerates. My favorite sportsbook is in the Venetian. It’s brand new, rarely crowded, always spotless and the waitresses don’t seem to care if you have bet slips or not. They are also the most diligent as far as kicking sleeping homeless people out. It has easily over a 100 TVs and the biggest single screen in Vegas. The only drawback is that you can’t seat a large group together due to the seating structure.
Tom’s Pool: Pools? I can honestly say I’ve never spent a single minute at one of Vegas’ infamous pools. From what I know though, it seems like the Hard Rock is the prohibitive favorite year in and year out. Correct?
Don’s Pool: The Hilton? I think I know where that is but it might be something else I am thinking of. It’s behind Bally’s. No wait, that’s the Westin. Yeah, no idea.
But yes, absolutely, the Hard Rock pool would be #1. Even though I have never been there on a Sunday, I have heard their Rehab party is off the hook..and full of Jersey Shore wannabes who have urinated in the pool several times. I am way too old, and fat, to participate in that. I find it shocking you don’t spend any time at the pool. My friends and I purposely go to Vegas in the summer because the odds of us constantly winning at the tables nonstop for a 4 day period are slim to none. Let’s just say I have a better shot at getting a blowjob from my wife than winning four straight days in Vegas. And trust me, those BJ odds are not good.
A pool is something that you can kill for about 4-5 hours a day and still drink. Hell, some casinos (Tropicana and Hard Rock) have swim up blackjack. Tell me that you wouldn’t participate in that. It’s mind-boggling to me why all the casinos don’t have gambling in the pool area. How are you going to rip off a casino in a pool? Swim away? Anyway, the best pool in my mind (and I’ve been to a bunch) is the MGM. It’s huge, so you won’t feel crowded. It has a lazy river that you can foolishly have races in and throw up afterwards in. And if you are into the whole “club at a pool scene” I have heard Wet Republic is a good time.
Don’s Tables: Table prices are very important to me and most likely to our readers out there. None of us are millionaires, so those $100-a-hand blackjack tables only happen when we are really drunk and really stupid. I will play $25 a hand tables, but I won’t like it too much. I prefer $10 tables, which every casino has to offer. However, most are taken up quickly and eventually turn to $15 to $25 at night. I am going outside the box here again, but if I want a casino full of affordable tables, I am going to go to the Tropicana. Yes, it’s a dump but they have several $5 and pretty much all $10 tables. The craps tables are $10 also which helps the wallet too. Of course, if I was a millionaire, I would pick the Bellagio but until I cash in my BR stock, I am going to be stuck at the Trop.
Tom’s Tables: I stayed at the Tropicana on one of my first forays out to Vegas and the room had bed that was literally slanted at a 45 degree angle and no working lights. That’s what $39 a night gets you. They have since cleaned the place up and it now looks the basement of a gay Cuban man’s Miami ranch. Lots of tropical wallpaper and white leather trim on everything. The bathrooms smell of mojitos and rear entry, I must say they’ve really done a solid job upgrading over there.
My pick for best tables is probably going to surprise you. I’m going with Monte Carlo. For whatever reason the MC seems to get lost in the shuffle. I feel like it probably gets overshadowed greatly by the City Center/Cosmopolitan complexes, which are right next door. No matter what time of day it is, I’ve never had a problem getting a table with a few open seats at MC. They also have the most stoic dealers in Vegas, pretty sure they are all degenerate gamblers working off the debt they owe to the casino.
Tom’s Entertainment: Entertainment wise? I have no clue, haven’t been to a single show in all my years out there. I do have front-row tickets to Thunder Down Under this year though, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ve been told to make sure I’m wearing sweatpants.
Don’s Entertainment: I like to wear break away warm up pants any time I venture to the Thunder Down Under. As for entertainment, I am on the boat with you. I saw O once and it was pretty fantastic, but that is not something a guys weekend should be about. Comedians are the new thing but I honestly have no idea where the big jokesters have shows. I am going to go with the Mirage because they have the Beatles Cirque show, the volcano, and a pretty fun bar to hang out at while waiting for your table at Kokomo.
I find it kind of interesting that in none of these categories, we mentioned the City Center/Aria/Cosmopolitan except to slam it. And that is what started the idea for this post, the closing of OShea’s to make room for another shopping center/uppity casino. It’s a damn shame that Vegas is turning into this oasis where shopping and spa luxury are taking precedent over gaming and drinking. Maybe it’s just the sentimental person in me that likes hearing the tales of old town Vegas. Hell, from what I’ve heard, Fremont Street is pretty damn fun. But since I have a penis, I am going to shy away from these shopping malls as much as I can. And yeah, don’t even get me started on how the construction of these places is a real pain in my ass when I am walking on the strip.
All these places we mentioned (Aria, Cosmopolitan, etc.) are admittedly awesome in every sense of the word. The problem is that no one really gambles anymore. It’s become a place for people to take a weekend trip or drive in from LA to go to the clubs, shop, eat and see shows. That’s what those places offer.
And that’s what really sucks about O’Shea’s closing. It was a place strictly committed to gambling and drinking. That’s it. No frills, no high-end eats, no platinum-plated toilets. It’s was a neighborhood bar with blackjack tables. So godspeed O’Sheas. We will never forget you. May you and the Sahara find happiness in gambler’s heaven.